Dr. Margaret A. Goralski
Bud Light: The Brewing Process of a Culture War
In 2023, when a VP of Anheuser-Busch (A-B) explored the expansion of beer sales to the transgender market through an LGBTQ+ influencer on Tik-Tok and Instagram, traditional Bud Light customers began pouring Bud down the toilet. Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth stated “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer” (Romero, 2023). Nonetheless that is exactly what happened. Organizational leaders worldwide have decided that it’s too risky to become embroiled in societal debates. Topics like sustainability; environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are being discussed less often during earning calls with investors. This case presents a unique opportunity to examine a C-suite decision and the business and societal repercussions of that decision.